A bride, a groom, a wedding worthy chicken salad

by Brittany Grace

I first met Sam and Shannon a few years ago, when I tagged along with Daniel – before we were actually dating – to a barbecue at their house. Shannon was an adorable host, befriending me immediately and offering cocktails on the spot in between singing along to whatever music happened to be playing. Sam sported an outrageously long beard and greeted me with a warm southern drawl.

Someone eventually produced a beer funnel, and the night got hilarious from there. I felt totally at ease – and entertained  – by these genuine, welcoming people.

Fast forward a year and a half, and I’m catering their wedding.

I  couldn’t have been more excited, and Sam and Shannon were great to work with: I dreamed up a menu in February, and Shannon approved of it with lots of “oh my GAWD that is going to be just WONDERFUL’s!”

I was nervous: 110 people! I usually make food in mason jars. I need employees! I need more kitchen space! I need a plan! What if I burn something? What if someone chokes on a bone while eating the chicken?

The wedding was this past Saturday.

Sam and Shannon were totally at ease, and absolutely in love.

The food went off without a hitch.

I was delighted and honored to be a part of Sam and Shannon’s big day.

The menu:

Hand pulled chicken with whole grain mustard bbq, chipotle vinegar bbq, Breadwinner buns

Freshly herbed chicken salad with dijon and white wine

Shells and extra sharp cheese with bechamel sauce

Local strawberry and spinach salad with balsamic vinagrette

Pickled okra

Favors of pimento cheese and black eyed pea hummus

The chicken salad was something that was made up on the spot, and I was surprised how many compliments it received.  The day before the wedding, my friend Cristina helped chop an assortment of herbs, and my mom eyeballed the amount of dijon mustard the chicken would need, while I tossed in a touch of white wine, mayo, onion and celery.  We tasted the concoction and added fresh lemon juice, sea salt, cracked pepper, and more mustard until we got it perfect. The mustard adds a dimension to the salad that is lacking in the traditional mayo-drenched varieties. An abundance of fresh herbs brought out a light, green flavor that my mom describes as ” very spring-y.”

Wedding worthy chicken salad

1 whole Springer Mt. farms chicken

1/4 onion

1-2 stalks celery

Dijon mustard

2-3 lemons

Dry white wine

Organic mayo (just a tad)

A big bunch of fresh herbs (I used rosemary, oregano, thyme and parsley)

Fresh radish

Roast your chicken. Allow it to cool, then pull all chicken off the bone, removing skin. (Using white and dark meat gives much more flavor).  Chop the onion and celery; add to chicken while blending in mayo – not a lot, about 1/2 a cup – and a few tablespoons of mustard. Pour in a dash of wine while continuing to blend. Finely chop herbs and add to mixture – don’t be afraid, add lots (fresh herbs would make cardboard taste good). Stir while adding the juice of 1 or 2 lemons. Sprinkle judiciously with sea salt and cracked pepper. Taste for balance and add lemon juice, wine, and mustard as needed.  Refrigerate over night to allow the flavors to marry; add extra lemon juice before serving. Slice radishes and use as garnish.

Congratulations, Sam and Shannon. I know the future has lots of exciting things in store for y’all.

Oops…you were promised a recipe for spring pea salad and lemongrass cream! That will come next.

All photos courtesy of the talented (and handsome) Daniel Stabler.